Baha'i News -- Campaign of fear continues against Baha'is

Campaign of fear continues against Baha'is

By Kambiz Rafraf

Published August 22, 1998

Members of the Baha'i Faith are mourning the death of a fellow believer who was executed on July 21 in Mashhad, Iran. And local believers will hold a memorial service at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Dallas Baha'i Center, 4235 W. Northwest Highway.

Ruhollah Rowhani, 52, was a medical supplies salesman. He had four children. Before his execution, he had been in solitary confinement since September 1997. There is no evidence that he was accorded any legal process or access to a lawyer. No sentence had been announced.

Baha'is learned from the Iranian Intelligence Office - only the night before the deed - that Mr. Rowhani was to be executed. The statement was not taken seriously because authorities have often made erroneous threats to harass Baha'is.

Mr. Rowhani's family, on the other hand, learned of the execution when they were called to pick up the body. Rope marks on the neck indicated that he had been hanged.

Mr. Rowhani was the first Baha'i to be executed since March 1992. Fifteen are currently being held in Iranian prisons on charges stemming from their adherence to the Baha'i Faith. There are four Baha'is on death row.

Since the Islamic regime took power, more than 200 Baha'is have been executed because of their religion. With more than 300,000 adherents, Baha'is are Iran's largest religious minority. But the Baha'i Faith is not recognized as a legitimate religion in Iran, and Baha'is have no constitutional rights.

"The United States deplores the gravely flawed process by which Mr. Rowhani was charged and executed, including the absence of due process or announcement of sentence," said a White House statement."The United States condemns this action, which violates the most basic international norms and universal standards of human rights."

The State Department has called on the Iranian government"to protect the lives of the 15 other imprisoned Baha'is, four of whom are sentenced to death."

Dallas-area Baha'is area join the six million Baha'is worldwide in condemning these cruel, senseless executions. The Baha'i Faith teaches us that mankind is essentially one, and that the right to religious freedom is a God-given right that all people must be afforded.

We invite the public to join us at our memorial service for Mr. Rowhani.

Kambiz Rafraf is chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Dallas.

©Copyright 1998, The Dallas Morning News

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